Iron Age

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The Early Iron Age, called the Hallstatt period (1150–350 B.C.), is the age of the first introduction of iron tools. They, however, are few, and their role is not significant, especially in the early stage. The majority of tools, weapons and ornaments continued to be made of bronze. In Romanian archaeology, however, the middle of the 12th century is established as the conventional date for the beginning of the Iron Age, due to some major changes occurring in the material culture especially revealed by the wide use of the pottery with cannelure decoration. In the neighboring regions, the early phases of the Hallstatt period, the Ha. A and B phase according to the chronology of Reinecke, are regarded as part of the Late Bronze Age. Therefore, the beginning of the Iron Age is set in the Hallstatt C phase, starting from 750 B.C.
    In the Satu Mare region, the spread of a new type of ceramic table-ware can be remarked at the beginning of the 12th century B.C. It was decorated with cannelures, and fired in two phases, obtaining a black surface on the outside of the vessels and a brownish-red color on the inside. This type of ceramic is closely related to the pottery from the second phase of Lăpuş cultural-group and to the first phase of Gáva culture. It consists of new vessel forms, like amphorae with pronounced knobs, new forms of cups, bowls with thickened lip turning inside, etc. – but  old vessel-forms, with characteristics of the Suciu de Sus and Cehăluţ cultures are also present: the portable cooking vessels and the lower cups with upraised handle. This type of pottery was discovered both in newly established settlements of this period (Carei–Ferma Spitz, Berveni–Râtul Caprei, Roşiori–Teglărie etc.), and in settlements inhabited since the previous period of the Suciu de Sus culture (Culciu Mare, Lazuri, Petea etc.). As the composition of the hoard from Căpleni shows, the metallurgy of the year 1100 B.C. continued to produce few old types of objects (axes with disc and thorn, flat winged axe), but it created new types of objects, like fibulas, and new forms of needles ( The hoard from Căpleni show new rites of deposition too: the pronounced fragmentation of the pieces, and the presence of numerous bronze ore plates.
    The coexistence of the new features with the elements of continuity is visible not only in metallurgy, but also in pottery, in the settlement structure and in the site-selection. Therefore, it is difficult to establish the exact role human communities of the Late Bronze Age played in the genesis of the Lăpuş II / Gáva I cultural horizon in Satu Mare County. Here, the cultural aspects are closely connected as compared to the neighboring territories, therefore, the assignment of contributions is even more difficult to make. In addition to the new aspects of the culture, the similar elements of habitat and spiritual life of the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age communities, suggest that there were no significant changes in the society of the end of the 2nd millennium B.C.
    Major changes in the structure and lifestyle of human communities, however, took place around the year 1000 B.C. The production of several vessel forms was abandoned, while new forms were created ( At same time, a great number of former settlements were left uninhabited, and new ones covering large areas were founded. These changes announce the new cultural phenomenon of birth and wide dispersion of Gáva culture. The roots of this cultural expansion lie in the intense transformations inside the society. The growing number of swords and golden objects, the use of prestigious weapons for body-protection (helmets, armour) and the sets of fine vessel, reflect the intense economic and social competition generating the birth of a new elite. The members of this elite performed ceremonial burials of highly valued goods implying the whole community, in order to confirm and legitimate their power. The large fortified settlements from Călineşti-Oaş and Căuaş, mark the existence of several well integrated and structured tribal alliances. The communities, coordinated by the elites have the capacity of investing a great amount of social energy in building huge defensive systems around the tribal centers. A great number of simple settlements surrounded the centers, and the greatest part of the economic activities were performed there. The importance of cultivating cereals is reflected by the presence of sickles in many bronze hoards (Pir, Sarvazel, Giorocuta). The additional presence of celt-axes in these depositions attest an intense processing of wood related to the intensification of forest-clearings in order to obtain fields for farming. Husbandry, especially of cattle, plays an important role too, as the analyses of bones and the frequent animal representations attest.
    Few finds were discovered in the region of Satu Mare dating in the middle of the Hallstatt period (Ha. C), between 800 and 450 B.C. The changes in the material and spiritual culture are barely noticeable, it seems like the representatives of Gáva culture are continuing their lifestyle, refusing to leave their places. Several cultural phenomena show influence from the east of the Carpathians, called “Cimmerians.” This new feature can be identified in the deposit from Vetiş containing snaffle, cheek bit, and bronze brackets. The same cultural horizon comprises the incineration graves with an urn from Ciumeşti–Moara M5, M22b and M35, as well as some complexes (pits) from the Hallstattian settlement from Lazuri–Lubi Tag.
    The Late Hallstatt (Ha. D), dating between the 6th and the 4th centuries B.C., is better represented in the region of Satu Mare, as a result of the discoveries made in settlements (Cămin–Malul Crasnei; Moftinu Mic–Pe deal; Carei–Cozard; Ghenci–Lutărie) and cemeteries (Sanislău–Nisipărie; Ghenci–Movila Spânzurătorii; Carei–FIUT workshop). It is noticeable the change in the material culture: the iron objects (knives, needles, bracelets) were generally used, and, beside the handmade vessels of old tradition of the Gáva culture, the wheel made pottery appears between the 5th and the 4th centuries B.C.
    Among the finds from the North-West of Romania discovered in archaeological complexes from settlements and cemeteries, the pottery made at the wheel represents about 25–30% of the entire ceramic finds. This considerable quantity of pottery could not be imported, therefore, it can be assumed that they were made locally. There were, however, no workshops or pottery kilns identified. The technique of the wheel made pottery was used in the region of Satu Mare earlier than the neighboring regions, therefore, it was implemented through the influence of the Hellenic world or of the southern Thrace. The surface treatment applied to the vessels of different types: cups, bi-conic pots, bowls with inturned rim; the fine paste, the grey, orange or brown colors, the quality firing, and the presence of the cups with the upraised handles with two parts and of the “kantharos” type vessels suggests the influence of the Greeks from the colonies along the eastern shore of the Black Sea (Berezean Island, Histria and Olbia towns).
The end of the Late Hallstatt period in the northwestern Romania is marked by the coming of the first Celt warriors by the middle of the 4th century B.C. The ample archaeological research from Ciumeşti–Moara, Berea–La Soci, Sanislău–Lutărie, Pişcolt–Nisipărie have had a major role in elucidating important issues on the material and spiritual culture of the eastern Celts. The moment of their coming in the northwest and west of Romania (including the region of Satu Mare) is marked by the oldest horizon of the graveyard in Pişcolt–Nisipărie. About 200 incineration and inhumation graves were discovered here, with the inventory dating from the Early La Tène. These early graves can be dated between 330 and 310 B.C. in the absolute chronology. The graveyards from the northwest Romania are biritual, the majority of burials were incineration, the remnants being put in pits or in funeral urns, while there were several inhumations in lying position and few with the skeleton in a crouching position.
    Several dwellings from rural settlements (vicus) were researched in Pişcolt–Lutărie, Ciumeşti–Bostănărie, Berea–La Soci, Cămin–Malul Crasnei, Lazuri–Lubi tag, discovering ploughs, sickles and milling stones. Settlements of “oppidum” type are missing in northwestern Romania. Farming was practiced in the researched settlements, cultivating wheat, barley, rye, millet and vegetables. Husbandry was practiced for providing milk, meat and force for traction. This is why, in settlements most of the animal remains come from cattle, goats, sheep and pigs. Traces of smith-workshops were found in some of the settlements (Cămin–Malul Crasnei, Carei–The Calvinist Cemetery), where great quantities of iron slag indicate the processing of this metal. A pottery workshop was revealed in Andrid–Ferma de Vaci. This type of pottery centers produced vessels for large regions, during the Celtic period. The fine quality of the vessels was assured by the advanced technology of pottery kilns, and by the mastering of the reverberation firing. There were produced vessels of fine ware in grey, yellow and black colors. The decoration of the vessels is varied and, in addition to the ceramic made with the fast-wheel, hand-made vessels of local tradition were found, too. Some products were real master-pieces, decorated with stamped motifs, like the boot-shaped vessel from Cămin–Malul Crasnei.
    The pieces and the ornaments of vestments were made of bronze, silver and rarely of gold. Female burials contain glass bracelets and beads, while male burials have swords with two edges, spear- and pike-heads, knifes, shields, and, rarely, helmets and chain-shirt. These pieces were beautifully decorated with dragons facing each-other, or with vegetal motifs called the “Hungarian style”, produced in the Central European workshops. A very rare bead, decorated with a human mask, was found in Pişcolt–Nisipărie, indicating the possibility of their production in the workshops of the Greek colonies founded on the eastern coast of the Black See.
    The Celts living on the territory of the northwestern Romania, had mutual contacts with the other Celtic tribes from the Central Europe, through the trade-routes set along the Mureş and Someş Rivers, called the “salt route”. The imports of graphite from Bohemia and Austria, or from other centers, show the relations with the highly developed centers, called “oppida” (Velemszentvid, Szalacska, Manching etc.). In addition, the connections with the Greeks and-Macedonians can be detected. In a Celtic dwelling from Berveni, in addition to the other materials, fragments of a stamped amphora produced in Chersones (Crimea) were found, with a written legend in two lines: HPAK (? EIOY) AETYN (OMOY). Finds from the cemetery in Ciumeşti–Moara (a bit of “Greek” type, and a leg-armor from the “prince-grave”) and a tetra-drachma from the coin-hoard of Turulung, minted by Eumanes of Pergam, around 260 B.C., indicate connections with the Hellenic world, too.
    These Greek-Hellenistic artifacts were brought to the region of Satu Mare by Celts during their return from the Balkan campaign, after their defeat at Delphi (279 B.C.). Ptolemy, the antic geographer, identified the people of Anarti in the northwestern Romania (Dacia), while Vasile Pârvan, in his monumental work (Getica) using antic sources, located the Anartii in the region of Satu Mare. This population is well known by scholars and it is considered as an ethnic mosaic. At this point it can be presumed, that the Anartii inhabited a large area, with a material culture specific to the La Tène. They were formed from Celts and from the native population, the perpetuators of the material culture from the Late Hallstatt, the Sanislău–Nyírseg group (or Vekerzug culture). A peaceful cohabitation between the inhabitants and the newcomers is proved by the material and spiritual culture.
    A sudden demographic change begins when the Celtic graveyards ceased at the end of the Middle La Tène and at the beginning of the Late La Tène period, dating to the end of the 2nd century B.C. Artifacts, specific for the Late La Tène period are found in the settlements researched in Lazuri–Lubi tag, Carei–Bobald, Acâş–Râtul lui Majtinyi, and probably in Ghenci–Lutărie. These objects are characteristic of the Dacian culture, and specific to its classic phase, dating between the 1st century B.C. and 1st century A.D. The Dacian type of artifacts are found with the Celtic painted pottery of eraviscian type, or with the Simmering type of Celtic coins, attesting contacts with the Celtic civilization of the “oppidian“ phase, located in the Danube area. The increasing power of the Dacians is mentioned in one of the historical sources: “incrementa dacorum per Rubobostem regem” (Trogus Pompeius, Prol. XXXII), indicating their advance to the north. Considering the great Dacian centers in Moigrad, Şimleu Silvaniei–Măgura or Solotvino and Onceşti from Maramureş (the Upper Tisa region), the Dacians advanced through the passage of the Crasna, Barcău, Tisa, or Someş Rivers. This determined the Celts to move from the northwestern territories of Romania to the Middle Danube region, where the concentration of the settlements can be detected in this period (Budapest–Tabánhegy, Bekásmegyer, etc.). This Celtic population survived the Roman conquest and it can be found living under the Roman domination. It can not be excluded that they lived in small settlements even under the Dacian domination (in the 1st and the 2nd centuries A.D.)
    The presence of western and north-western elements among the objects found in Lazuri–Lubi tag, suggests a connection with the age of the famous king Burebista. Antic sources mention that the first campaign of the Dacian king was set against the Celtic tribes of Boii and Tauriscii, between 60 and 45 B.C. Recent finds help to clarify the role of Satu Mare region in these events. The beginning of the impressive fortresses from Malaja Kopanja (Trans-Carpathian Ukraine) is related to this period of Burebista. The fortress is situated at the point where the Tisa River comes out from the passage of the Oaş and Vinogradov Mountains. Intense archaeological research was carried out at this site, demonstrating that this fortified settlement was a regional center during the 1st century B.C. and the 1st century A.D. The great number of weapons, the fine vestment accessories, and the imported luxury artifacts reflect the presence of important social elite in this settlement. The finds suggest an intense practice of several crafts, especially metallurgical activities. Many farming and trading tools found here, indicate that the workshops of the fortress fulfilled the needs of a large area.
    An important find of the Dacian civilization from the Satu Mare area was made in Carei–Bobald, in the 1st century A.D. Hand made pottery finely decorated and pottery made with the fast wheel, having polished ornaments were found together with a strong profiled fibula. The fibula was imported from the Roman Empire (Pannonia), and is an element that confirms the dating of this settlement in the 1st century A.D. No traces of destructions caused by the wars of Traianus were found in the, rather less investigated, Dacian settlements of Satu Mare. These wars, however, caused destructions not only in the centers from Sălaj and Bihor, toward the south, but also neighboring region to the north, in the fortresses of the Upper Tisa. Traces of the destructions found at Malaja Kopanya (burnt levels, remnants of the demolished buildings and the ceasing of the defensive system), caused by Roman military units, sent to liquidate the resistance of the Dacians of this region, can be dated in the period of Dacian–Roman wars.

Acâş- Râtul lui Maitini

The archaeological site from Acâş– Râtul lui Maitini was researched due to the extension of the dyke on the Crasna River.

County Museum of Satu Mare
Bd. Vasile Lucaciu, Nr. 21
440031, Satu Mare
Email:[email protected]

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